Matthew 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Luke 8:6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

MEMORY VERSE: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. —Ezekiel 36:26

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Those who harbor hard things beneath the surface— unforgiveness, covetousness, rebellion, fear—may have excited emotions when hearing the gospel message at first; later when the Word touches the deeper issues, there is not enough depth of desire nor thorough seeking to cause the experience to endure.


Matthew 13:6 “No root”: “spoken of one who has but a superficial experience of divine truth and has not permitted it to make its way into the inmost recesses of his soul” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).

Matthew 13:20 “Anon”: straightway; immediately (Strong’s Concordance); quickly; immediately (Webster’s).


The second type of ground Jesus described was that which had soft, shallow soil covering hard, stony places just beneath the surface. It reminds me of a house we built where the septic tank was buried under about three inches of topsoil. Every spring a bright green covering of lush grass grew vigorously over that concrete tank. Every July it turned into a pale brown mat of dead fibers. There just wasn’t the depth of soil to keep the patch of grass alive when the sun blazed hot and rainfall wasn’t as frequent.

This type of heart was characterized by: 1) immediate joyful reception, 2) no deepness of earth, 3) no root, 4) no moisture, 5) offense caused by affliction, persecution and tribulation, and 6) a falling away in time of temptation.

The rich man who came running to Jesus is a perfect illustration of this kind of heart. He was touched, intrigued and emotionally moved by his encounter with Jesus and His message. He had tried, from boyhood on into manhood, to “be good.” There was something in his heart that cried for more, and now he realized what it was. But deep in his heart was something he loved more than anything. He loved the good life that wealth had given him. Perhaps there were more “stones” along with this one. Perhaps he had been very poor as a child. Maybe he had deep hurt and bitterness because of that, which gave him a strong drive to succeed financially. He had worked hard for that success, and there was no way he was going back to poverty.

Jesus looked at him and loved him, but he struck right at the stone in this rich man’s heart. He knew the void in his life and how transforming that drive and struggle to succeed into a drive to be a channel of blessing to others would satisfy his soul. In order for the Word to grow, the stone had to go.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Name the characteristics of the shallow hearer.
  2. What four things listed are tests for the soul?
  3. What Bible character illustrates this parable for Jesus?
  4. What was Jesus’ immediate thought for this man?
  5. What gives us a clue that he really wanted eternal life?
  6. What five steps did Jesus ask him to make, and what promise was included?
  7. How did the story end?
  8. What prophetic promise was given for those who had stony hearts?


There have been precious souls who would, at times, be emotionally moved to seek salvation, but whose experiences could never last long. Not until they were willing to own up to the “stones” in their lives, gather them out of the way by confessing them, asking God to deliver them, and consecrating to go all the way with God did they find lasting victory for their souls.

For one person, a hard place was a lie of satan which she believed as a child. For years she thought that an altar of prayer was a bad place—a place where someone hurt you and you cried. Later in life she came to grips with this false idea, and God delivered her.

Another had been dealt with unwisely as a child and harbored ideas against “church people.” She wanted to love the Lord, but couldn’t get past the confusion and hurt. When she finally realized that God was not harsh, but loving and gentle, she threw that stone out of her life and learned to walk with God and obey His voice.

Some people struggle with fear that God will call them to preach or go to the mission field. Some harbor a love for the baubles of this world and a resentment against “being different.” Others hide a secret vice until the addiction so controls them they have no courage to try to overcome it. These are all beneath-the-surface stony places that keep God’s Word from ever growing long enough to produce fruit.

Are there hard places hindering your experience? Gather out the stones, break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord until He gives you a soft heart, that you may become fruitful with His graces and a blessing to everyone around you!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


One Sunday while you are speaking you notice a new person in the audience. He is listening intently and trying to find the scripture in the Bible someone just handed to him. When you invite people to come and pray, he is among those who come forward. He prays earnestly and arises from his knees with a shining face.

You get his address and visit him. He comes again to service, then again and again. You see in him a winning personality; maybe a talent for singing. He has the ability to quickly understand the scriptures. You see the potential for God to use this new babe. The new believer testifies of the great change in his life, of the sweet presence of Jesus in his heart— and then a few Sundays later he is missing.

When service is over and the family and visitors are taken care of, you hurry to his home. His wife answers the door. He’s not feeling well, she tells you.

“May I come in and pray for him?”

You go in and find him drunk.

All the strength you have seems to drain out your toes. Your heart bleeds all through the night and the weeks that follow as you try day after day to convince him that God will forgive; that God will give him victory. But he constantly contends that living for Christ is too difficult. A stone in his heart keeps the Word from forming roots.

Be encouraged, because Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not my word as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh a rock into pieces.”

I can personally testify that God has broken many hard hearts. Some of these have been persons who accepted Christ quickly, then fell away but were later restored.

—Sis. Charlotte Huskey